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Outside The Block, Part 1

If you have followed my blog for the last year, you probably think that all I do is quilt. And that is pretty close to the truth! However, there are a few other things that I like to do and I thought I would share them with you occasionally in a blog called "Outside the Block". My clever Public Relations daughter came up with that catchy title -- a play on "outside the box" but with a quilty twist.

In the spring and summer, Tom and I like to play in the dirt. He plants our vegetable garden and I plant annuals to spruce up our deck and patio. I like to plant a variety of flowers in several different sizes of pots. It is nice to look out the window or sit on the patio and enjoy all of the colors? This season I planted geraniums, vinca, impatiens, marigolds, salvia, begonias, coleus, ageratum, and spikes. I finally replaced the plastic hanging pots with metal baskets and they look so much better!

Last summer Tom replaced a retaining wall on the east side of our patio. Originally there had been two small flower beds in that shady area in which I always planted impatiens. With the new block retaining wall, the flower bed became one larger space - a blank canvas that called for something fun. I dialed up Pinterest for some ideas and then set out in search of items for the new garden. Our go-to destination was garage sales in the Lincoln area -- another thing that we like to do together in the summertime. There I found a bench, a small table with two drawers, a metal angel, and a rectangular metal plant holder -- a total purchase of $10! I repainted the bench and table in fun colors that would go with my other accessories. I also purchased a few baskets and colored pots which did not make it into the garden as it would have been too cluttered. I also added a large metal planter and a couple of turtles that my parents had in their backyard, as well as some metal flowers and a frog made by Amy Ludwig of Ludwig Custom Metals. The garden turned out even better than I expected!

As you know from previous blogs, I like to decorate for the holidays. Besides quilts, I like to collect other items such as baskets, metal works, and wooden and ceramic decorations. I find most of these things at garage sales and craft fairs. A patriotic basket that I purchased a couple of years ago was looking pretty empty on the shelf in my kitchen, so I decided to search Pinterest once again for some ideas on things that I could fill it with. After a trip to Joann Fabrics and Walmart and a search of our hall closet, I was armed with enough goodies to fill two baskets! My favorite items are the baseballs and flag in the Longaberger basket and the glittery, spirally spikes and the pinwheel in the patriotic basket.

Another hobby that I have is reading. I always have one book on my nightstand and occasionally have another on my Kindle. I am still "old school", however, as I really prefer holding an actual book. I get a lot of my books from my parents who are also avid readers. In addition, I enjoy searching for them at garage sales. I usually read fiction, but lately have enjoyed some non-fiction as well. At the moment I am reading Barbara Bush's autobiography. She is fairly candid about her life as First Lady. It is interesting to read about the people she met and how many of them she considered dear friends. I'm not sure how she kept up with all of their travels and entertaining without being totally exhausted!

I have also enjoyed reading Bill O'Reilly's books, "Killing Kennedy", "Killing Jesus", and "Killing Lincoln". I realize that this author has been in the spotlight recently in an unfavorable way, but that doesn't detract from the historical significance of these books. For someone who only reads non-fiction occasionally, I found these books quite interesting and informative.

Well, looks like it might be time to get back to some quilting. Hard to stay away from that for too long!!

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